2014 was a terrible year for persecution of Christians. In Syria, North Korea and Somalia, Christians are routinely imprisoned and killed. In Iraq, 2014 saw the passage of a law requiring Christians to convert or pay an exorbitant tax. The other choice for Iraqi Christians is to flee.
Open Doors has been tracking persecution of Christians around the world for 60 years. They have just released their latest report, and it makes a grim prediction: 2015 may very well be the worst year for Christians since Open Doors began its work. David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors, explains:
Even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion, discrimination and violence. The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are being forced to be more secretive about their faith.
Curry says the work of Open Doors brings attention to areas of persecution and attempt to alleviate it, but also lets those being persecuted know they are not forgotten.
The report cites the Middle East as one of the most dangerous regions:
Violence against Christians by the Islamic State and other Islamic terrorist groups increased in countries like Iraq and Syria. More than 70 percent of Christians have fled Iraq since 2003, and more than 700,000 Christians have left Syria since the civil war began in 2011. Afghanistan and Pakistan have both increased in persecution.
Kenya, which had been ranked at 43 on the list of 50 worst countries, jumped to 19 in the latest report. Nigeria moved into the top 10 for the first time. India remains a place of grave danger for Christians, who face persecution from both extremist Islamic and Hindu forces.
North Korea has ranked first in Christian persecution for 13 consecutive years. It is estimated that more than half a million Christians reside in prison labor camps, and arbitrary executions are common.
You can view the World Watch List from Open Doors here.